Only the janitor could open the transoms.

They locked the windows to stop us from running.

Our coaches carried four foot paddles

drilled with one inch holes,

slammed them into our asses

until our faces exploded,

swang again and again to break us in half.

A fourth of the freshman girls became mothers,

wailed loudly in the halls and blamed us.

Some of my friends did time or probation

for shoplifting, burglary, or car theft.

Others shot heroin in the bathrooms.

All of us escaped our homes for midnight asphalt,

swigging quart bottles of watery beer.

For gangs from other schools

we would links of tire chains around fists

hidden in the pockets of our leather jackets,

hoping to sidestep an ice pick

or dodge a baseball bat.

From our parents and teachers we learned

to shield our faces with a raised elbow

and keep our best hand free.



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